Man charged over viral baby-swinging video

Sam says: "Following up (vaguely) on your post: "
A Queensland man has been charged for re-publishing on a video-sharing site a viral video of a man swinging a baby around like a rag doll.

The controversial three-minute video had already been published widely across the internet and shown on American TV news shows. The clip can still be found online today.

Chris Illingworth, 60, a father of four from Maroochydore, thought he would share it with fellow users of Liveleak, a site similar to YouTube but focused on news and current events. In two years, he has uploaded hundreds of videos to Liveleak.

His home was raided on Sunday, November 30, by Queensland Police from Task Force Argos, which specialises in combating child pornography and child groomers.

He was charged with using the internet to access and publish child-abuse material and is scheduled to appear in court in Maroochydore on December 18.


  1. So a quick google explained what a “child groomer” actually is, but my first thought was someone goign through a kids hair finding & eating lice.

  2. Oh for pete’s sake. What the hell is the matter with these people? they should be ashamed of themselves. Douchebags.

  3. ^^Need to remove the “comes this” text before the actual http. Though ‘comes this’ is an excellent html tag, the more that I think about it.

    In regard to this story – I thought it was referring to the actual baby-swinging guy on first glance at the snippet here on BoingBoing. It’s just the guy who saw it somewhere and posted it to LiveLeak. Sheesh.

  4. I hate to quote Ayn Rand, but about this she was on point:

    There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

    Or, take John Gilmore’s version:

    How many of you have broken no laws this month?

  5. I have a 1-month old daughter, and watching this video made me sick – I don’t know if it does hurt the kid’s joints, but I think it’s totally irresponsible behavior as an adult. Here’s a link to the video:

    That being said, the whole system is a wreck when they raid someone for reposting a vid like that. If it’s considered abusive by doctors in the nation it was filmed, go after the guy who did the actual swinging… otherwise, meh.

  6. I know what he is about to go through, 10 years ago I caught hell when I was overheard saying that I had taught my daughter origami.

  7. I’m confused by the reactions above; I think (at least I hope) that we can agree that if the child is real, then this is certainly abuse, and illegal.

    Further, and separate but related to that point, sexual abuse of children is illegal, as well as the distribution of that material is illegal (at least in Canada “simulated” abuse is also illegal).

    I’m not sure about the laws in Queensland, but it’s not a massive stretch of the imagination that the distribution of video’s showing non-sexual abuse would also be illegal, hyperlinking can also be considered distributing, and likely would be given that it would be easy to circumvent distribution laws for if you said hyperlinking wasn’t distributing.

    If the child is not real, this is all likely a moot point, but further illustrates the danger of outlawing “simulated” abuse; it starts to creep towards “thought-police” state thinking.

    As for the present case, the link doesn’t work so I can’t see what facts or laws exist that might push this one way or the other; but I for one don’t see this as beyond the pale without more information.

  8. The only way a child could go through a swinging session like that without injury is if they were in training to strengthen their muscles and joints. That kid is obviously less than 5 years of age when they could fairly be said to start “training” for such acrobatics, but the charge of “grooming” refers to a stranger befriending a minor with the intent of sexually abusing the child.

    Sounds like they threw the wrong book at him.

    For more on the injury, see Nursemaid’s elbow:

  9. The fact is circus folk have different ways than us. This was clearly not abuse, although I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that with my child.

    That being said, Going after someone for posting it is just nuts.


  10. Okay, I would never do this with a child.

    However, if it is real, the kid looks happy. Babies are super malleable and for all we know — and all we will ever know since testing is not possible — this might be really good for the baby. Maybe it would strengthen and limber-up all those joints and muscles. And the guy keeps the motion pretty fluid — he isn’t shaking the baby. I don’t see how you can scientifically know this is abuse.

    Not only that, but the child looked like he/she knew what s/he was getting into, the way the baby approached the man.

    Finally, the camera was hand-held, so there were at least two people condoning that action.

    When I was a kid, there was a neighbor who would swing us around like this (we were maybe 5 years old) we couldn’t get enough of it! We’d wait in line and beg!

  11. I see no abuse on the video. Chinese/Russia gymnasts, trapecists, etc. may start like their life-long training like this. Obviously not their first time, and they both seem to use quite a calculated strength and swing – I see nothing that indicates ‘abuse’ and everything that indicates training. I wouldn’t do it to my children, but then I am not a gymnast, a trapecist or any of the kind.

    If we weren’t clued in that babies swim well in water, would the Nirvana CD cover of the under-water baby also warrant screaming ‘abuse’? How paranoid is the world becoming?

    The video aside – getting a guy arrested because he shared the link/video… WTF?

    Should I expect my door to be knocked down next time I link to a Funniest Home Videos for child/animal/whatever abuse?

  12. @redleatherman, #10: That’s a joke, right? I just assumed that it’s a joke, but this thread is about how people have lost all sense of proportion, so now you’ve got me wondering.

  13. Uhhhh…… my impression is that the person that uploaded the video is being charged. It does not seem to be the person who did the swinging being charged. The guy arrested had NOTHING to do with the actual video itself. Sounds like a bogus charge to me.

  14. Seems a bit muddle-headed in here today. Clearly IF the video shows actual child abuse AND distributing videos of child abuse is illegal in that jurisdiction THEN the person redistributing it (that includes you Skarbreeze) is guilty of distributing videos of child abuse. That seems fairly simple.

    There are two issues.

    1. Is the video real? If it is, please don’t tell me that ‘babies are flexible’ or the story that your father/uncle/russian gymnast/circus folk/neighbour used to do this to you as a baby. Since you can type, they almost certainly didn’t. I’m in the itsafakecamp, as it happens, but if it is it’s a bloody good one.

    2. Are the statutes that outlaw redistribution of abuse videos just laws? I’d have to say yes. With regard to simulated abuse videos, I’d say no, but since this seems to be encouraging BoingBoing’s usual intelligentish readers to think that babies can undergo this treatment without any harm, I may have to rethink my position. It’s certainly worthy of a caution when the intent is (to me) to deceive.

  15. So hang on, the guy who //uploaded// the video got charged, not the daft twat who was actually swinging the baby around?

    Uhh, what? I mean, the video didn’t look particularly abusive, but I can understand why the police might have some beef with the guy who was actually doing the swinging… But the guy who uploaded it? They’ve got their priorities all fucked up. I wish someone could change my mind about cops, I really do.

  16. #11, I believe that NUMEROUS news outlets replayed this video both online and on television. I don’t see how, given that, an average 60yr-old man could reasonably believe re-posting the video was wrong.

    On the whole abuse issue… Yeah, it’s obvious to “us” that this is abuse. It is, however, perfectly acceptable in some cultures (someone above mentioned “circus folk”) to begin conditioning infants for various things.

    Not only that, but in other cultures it is perfectly acceptable to mutilate parts of a child’s body for religious or cultural reasons. Is it wrong to most of us? Of course… but to assume the man swinging the baby “knew better” may be more of a stretch than you’d think.

  17. #11 and #19 I agree with you, we must smash these baby swingers into submission along with those that support their wild, free swinging baby ways by uploading this corrosive trash from the mainstream media. What next? Toddler tetherball? This sexagenarian sadist/voyeur must pay! The rule of law must rule always to save the babies from the acrobatic cults, real or imagined, threatening the great nation-continent of Australia. There is no room for nuance in these troubling times. Lock him up before it’s, too late.

  18. The video looks real to me. I don’t think it is fake.

    Although I would not try these stunts with my own 9 month old daughter for fear of hurting her, the baby in the video does not appear to be hurt at all, in fact quite the opposite he seems to enjoy it.

    I would think that proof of injury would be required before anybody could be prosecuted.

  19. It’s good to see that most people agree that relinking to the video or uploading the video being a crime is crazy but it’s too bad so many think the man swinging the child is abusing the child.

    First – the child is obviously very happy and it shown at the end of the video, simply put, there is not a tear in the eyes and huge happy baby smile on the mouth.

    Second – i think there are many people out there, myself included who remember being swung around by parent or sibling and who also remember swinging their children or siblings around themselves.

    Yes this man has taken it to an extreme, but do those who say it is abuse know what he knows? Do you Know the whole story? Or do you see a video and cringe and start screaming abuse, i know i cringed and if i hadn’t seen the childs happy face at the end i would have probably been in the “its abuse” camp, but the proof is in the pudding. No tears, no fears.

  20. #23 – actually, you’d be surprised how little evidence is needed with that particular charge. It’s emotion-ridden, and very much prone to “better safe than sorry” mentality.

  21. Are we sure that the man got arrested for this specific film. The story says he uploaded hundreds. Could it be that there are problems with with other films, but that because he also had this film, the story just got juicier and spread easier?
    There are some lines in the story as told on that _does_ make this interpretation possible. The police _could_ have found other stuff at his home during the raid.
    I just mention this angle, without really believing it myself…

  22. I’m just thinking “double nursemaid’s elbow.” (Dislocation of the elbow, usually happens when kid goes one way, adult goes the other when they’re holding hands.)

    The guy’s a dumbass.

    Marco Antonio: Citation for the “may start training like this?”

  23. @ Secret_Life_of_Plants:

    “… this might be really good for the baby.”

    Uh, well, sure. Let’s feed steroids to babies, fire them out of cannons, and shoot them with rail guns. All sorts of crazy things might be really good for babies.

    There’s been a little too much hand-wringing over this one. Sure, if the video is real, then it might constitute abuse, depending on where it was filmed. Likewise, it might be illegal to distribute the video in any given country. That’s for the courts to decide, if they even decide to bother.

    Some of it would come down to whether or not the child sustained—or was believed by the judge or jurors to have sustained—injuries. And intent would also likely come into play. This isn’t a black-and-white abuse charge we’re talking about. It’s a baby-swinging free-for-all.

    @ Tordelback

    “I’m in the itsafakecamp, as it happens, but if it is it’s a bloody good one.”

    So you believe it’s a fake, but it’s so convincing that you’re not ruling out the possibility that it’s real? I’m with you. I’d prefer to think it was fake, but it sure looks real enough. I know that all of BoingBoing’s video experts weighed in on the previous thread, and that it was generally agreed to be a fake, but I didn’t see any citations so I’m just not buying it.

    That said, I mostly agree with your position on simulated abuse, but it’s a slippery slope. If the intent is to convince others that abuse occurred, and the resultant video is indistinguishable from the real thing, only the original project files and expert testimony from LucasArts employees can save you.

  24. @William

    That’s a joke, right?

    Well sorta, I never got charged for any sort of pedophilia during my month in the spit proof cell.
    It took me a few days to piece together why and what happened. and I’m sure at the time the witness didn’t understand what the word origami meant.
    Now on the other hand, Chris Illingworth isn’t a victim of a misunderstanding. The Queensland police know what they are doing and even tho I fail to understand how he broke the law, The law seems more and more able prosecute anything.

  25. Who are they charging with the actual abuse? Its clearly not a 60 year old man swinging the child, and surely if he is publishing child abuse material that would imply they have a case of abuse against the person in the video?

    Given the recent internet filtering trial that is been forced on many ISPs down under, it seems far more likely that this is about pushing an agenda.

  26. Australia is moving ahead with the new and improved version of their Stonking Great Firewall.

    I think that this will go well. Everyone will enjoy access to all of the Good Web Things and will be protected from all of the Bad Web Things. If any Bad Web Things slip through, why, the Police will be right there to arrest the people who have seen them. All is right with the world. Sleep tight!

  27. More on Australia’s War on “””Child Porn”””:

    Fake Simpsons cartoon ‘is porn’
    By Nick Bryant
    BBC News, Sydney

    An appeal judge in Australia has ruled that an animation depicting well-known cartoon characters engaging in sexual acts is child pornography.

    The internet cartoon featured characters from the Simpsons TV series.

    The central issue in the case was whether a cartoon character could depict a real person.

    Judge Michael Adams decided that it could, and found a man from Sydney guilty of possessing child pornography on his computer.

    The defence had argued that the fictional, animated characters were not real people, and clearly departed from the human form.

    They therefore contested that the conviction for the possession of child pornography should be overturned.

    Justice Michael Adams said the purpose of anti-child pornography legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images of “real” children were depicted.

    But in a landmark ruling he decided that the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

    He ruled that the animated cartoon could “fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children,” and therefore upheld the conviction for child pornography.

    Rather than jail the man, however, he fined him Aus$3,000 (US$2,000).

  28. Rather than jail the man, however, he fined him Aus$3,000 (US$2,000).

    So the judge thought that an animated depiction was just as much child pornography as a real child…at least for monitary purposes….seems a little unjust to me to call the man a child pornographer and then not treat him like one…or do the guys with real images get a fine as well…


  29. BTW, if Cartoons are People now, should we grant them Human Rights? If so, that settles the IA personality debate.

  30. That’s it. . . I’m never looking at anything on the internets ever again, after all, I saw that video, I shared it with friends. . . that could have been me that was arrested.

  31. The video is appalling – I saw it first time it was posted.

    However, the fact that “He was charged with using the internet to access and publish child-abuse material” is just bizarre. Absurd – as if the police in this case didn’t really understand their own laws.

  32. Yeah well it is Queensland – the Texas of Australia. When crossing the border from New South Wales you turn your watch back 20 years.

  33. Have you folks seen the video? I saw it when it was making the rounds, and it really looked edited. He clearly started with a real child, as he really started spinning, it looks like clips were edited together – the kid in much of the later video didn’t look like a real kid.

  34. Seems like Australia is a country beset by hysteria right now. In the Simpsons case; for this offence the Aussie in question will have his travel outside of Australia restricted and will forever be tagged as a “paedophile”.

    NZ had similar irrationality issues back in 1991-92 over a case of alleged multiple child abuse.

    This was the media in the lead-up to the offense:

    The media leading the masses – does this sound familiar?

    The evidence has since been well debunked by Lynley Hood in the book “A City Possessed”, but a young man served a long jail term for a “crime” that in all probability never existed. He was never pardoned, despite most Kiwis believing he is innocent.

    Maybe Australia is just trying to create its own scapegoats to sacrifice for the blood-lust of the zealots.

    The bottom line is that we haven’t yet evolved far from witchcraft, rumour and witch hunts. The candidate selection is just a little more sophisticated now.

  35. What’s with this mentality that after-the-fact, you can either critique without experience or vice versa, but never both? We all hate slavery, so no examination of it is necessary! The Iraq War is necessary, so no criticism is to be tolerated!

    Once upon a time, people studied past mistakes, in the slim hope of helping to avoid them in future!

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